Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Western Wyoming

We had a wonderful time in Cody. We spent two days in Yellowstone. Another day in the Big Horn National Forest. We drove through mountains and more mountains. We saw many bison, white tailed and mule deer, elk, a moose and many many birds. But we didn't see a bear. We hoped to but none were found by us. We drove about 800 miles doing all this but it was worth it. We may not get back this way again and wanted to see as much as we could. The weather was great. Some days it was as high as 90 but with low humidity. I'm working on a sideshow of the pictures..hopefully I'll finish and get it posted tomorrow.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Buffalo Bill Dam and Reservoir

On Thursday afternoon we went west outside Cody to see the Buffalo Bill Dam and Reservoir.

Still in Cody

On Friday we went to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. There are 5 museums on the grounds surrounded by gardens. For $15.00 you gain entrance to all 5 museums for 2 days. This is an amazing place. Well worth the admission price. There is no way to see it all even with the two days included in the fee. The collections are incredible. The amount of research and documentation is almost over-whelming.
Yesterday we went into the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, then the Plains Indian Museum. We took a break, came home for lunch and went back and did the Buffalo Bill Museum and started the Draper Museum of Natural History. Our energy ran out and we decided to start over today. This morning after breakfast at Bubba's ..(oh how we wished it was "OUR Bubba's breakfast"...we went back. We went back to the Draper Museum of Natural History, then went into the gardens to look at all of the sculptures there. The last museum was the Cody Firearm Museum. We did this one a bit fast as we didn't have a great interest in it. Although parts of it were interesting since they displayed not only guns from as early as 1550, but also had a brief film about how guns have changed over the years. We finally decided we'd had enough and came back to the house. Tomorrow we're going into Yellowstone. It is about a 50 miles drive to the East entrance. Then about another 50 miles or so to get to Ole Faithful geyser. We've got to go there...I think it must be required..right?? Anyway. Bye for now. Deb

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cody Wyoming

After spending a couple of quiet nights in Buffalo, we came over the Big Horn Mountains on Highway 20 on our way to Cody. Beautiful scenery all along the way. The diesel did a very good job pulling us up and over the mountains (over 9600 feet) in altitude. There was still snow on some of the slopes. Wow!! Snow in July..not something this southern girl has seen recently.

We pulled in on Wednesday to the Pondersosa Campground. This park is located right in the city very convenient to everything in town. And the price reflects that #32.00 a night. Yipes...we'll need to balance that out later this summer to keep our costs within budget. (Since we've blown the budget this week). But, this area is in full vacation mode and nothing is cheap. Cody is on the highway 16 the only route into Yellowstone from this part of Wyoming. Buffalo Bill planned it that way. On Thursday morning we took a Trolley ride around town. The owner/guide gave us a good overview of the town of Cody and it's history. That afternoon we went to the Wild West Miniature Museum. This free museum has dioramas in miniature of many of the important events in history for Wyoming and southern Montana. There is also quite a display of Indian clothing, household items, weapons and more.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ads from Goggle

Recently I learned from a friend's blog that Google has now set up a system to place ads on our blogs....I know..I know..just one more place to see advertisements..but..according to him (and Google)they pay me to put them there as long as you click on them...SOOOOO...I added the feature to the blog yesterday. As I understand the process..Google puts ads that match the content of my blog..and for each click by a visitor (you)..Google puts money in an account for me. Once it gets to $100, they'll send me a check. Sooo.... if you see something that interests you just click and check it out. Please don't just click multiple times as Google frowns on this and will respond to me unkindly.
If it's a bother after a month or so..they'll go consider the next few weeks a test...will it make us some extra money?? Who away and we'll to you all. Deb

I-90 Gillette Wy to Buffalo you see any trees???

If you look really close in a few of the last pictures you'll see the Big Horn Mountains in the distance with snow on the top of the peaks...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Custer State Park

On Friday we spent our last day with Judy and Greg. It was a long drive through Custer State Park. This park has a wide variety of landscape. Mountains thin and thick, meadows, creeks and prairie. We saw the Begging Burros, 3...count them...3 buffalo, pronghorn antelopes, mule deer and birds. The route had us going through very tight 1 lane tunnels, wide open meadows and clinging to the side of steep mountains. The views were outstanding.

The "Begging Burros" are the only animal in the park you'll allowed to feed without getting into trouble. As you can see the Burros really like Mr. P..or at least the crackers he gave them.

Today we returned to the park with Miss Elli. We thought she'd like to see the burros and buffalo up close and personal. NOT!!!
The first thing we did was return to the 1 lane tunnels. We wanted to see if we could get good pictures of Mount Rushmore through the tunnel. The sun was shining directly on the monument. And I was able to get several really good pictures.

After talking to a Park Ranger, we took off on the road less traveled in the park. Still didn't see any of the 1200 buffalo they claimed to have. After moving back onto the main Wildlife Loop Rd..we came upon a line of stopped cars. In a bit we were able to move up enough to see the "HERD OF BUFFALO".. they were everywhere. I got out of the truck (since we were stopped anyway) to take pictures.. One buffalo was roaring his displeasure at our presence. We'd been warned to be careful. They can move fast when they wish. Gary thought he might be roaring for another reason...but I'm not sure. I just know he was LOUD!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Crazy Horse Memorial

After leaving Mount Rushmore we traveled further south to Crazy Horse Memorial. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear officially started the Crazy Horse Memorial June 3, 1948. The Memorial's mission is to honor the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians. This non-profit cultural and educational endeavor is celebrating it's 60th Anniversary this year. The foundation has three major goals: the mountain carving, the Indian Museum of North America, and the Indian University (and Medical Training Center) of North America. All done by donation from private citizens and businesses that support this mission. No tax dollars at work here. The Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and his family are strong believers of personal entrepreneurship and have turned down millions of dollars of federal support.

To be carved on the memorial...



"MY LANDS ARE WHERE MY DEAD LIE BURIED." So said Crazy Horse not long before his death by a traitor's hand.

We spent quite a while reviewing all of the museum artifacts on display. There was also a video telling the story of how the project was started and the plans for the future. This is a very impressive collection of Indian artifacts and artwork. There were artists offering their work for sale. Everything from jewelry to paintings. Very nice work.
We were also entertained by some traditional Lakota Indian dancers.

We stayed until dark and watched their laser light show. It was very impressive and enjoyable. Overall..we all agreed this project will likely still be under way long after we are gone from this world.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

I've seen pictures of this monument all of my life. But seeing it "for real" is so amazing. The vision and determination of the men responsible is just mind boggling. To quote Gutzon Borglum...
"A monument's dimensions should be determined by the importance to civilization of the events commemorated. We are not here trying to carve an epic, portray a moonlight scene, or write a sonnet; neither are we dealing with mystery or tragedy, but rather the constructive and dramatic moments or crises in our amazing history."

Carved into the side of a mountain in South Dakota are the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. It is a memorial to American history. The faces remind everyone that even the impossible is possible.

South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson conceived the idea in 1923 to attract more people to the Black Hills of South Dakota with colossal carvings. Robinson gained support others in South Dakota and Washington DC. He contacted Gutzon Borglum. Borglum agreed to come out to the Black Hills in 1924 to look at the area and see if the carving was possible. After looking at the Needles mountain area and ruling them out, they were told about Mount Rushmore. When Borglum saw the mountain he pointed to it and said, "America will march along that skyline."
The first actual carving began on October 4, 1927. Work continued until 1941 (even after Borglum's death) until funds ran out leaving the presidents as we see them today.

We spent several hours walking the President's trail, looking at the Sculptor's Studio and watching a video about the project. In the Sculptor's Studio plaster casts of the figures are displayed. These were used during the carving to help ensure the sizing was accurate.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Badlands of South Dakota

Tuesday afternoon we continued our sightseeing by traveling through the Badlands with Judy and Greg. This national park is very impressive. Miles and miles of wonderful sights. I hope you enjoy the slide show. If you'd like to see larger pictures, double click on the show and it'll open up.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Back to South Dakota

Monday found us on the road back to South Dakota. Yes...going back 154 miles to the Hart Ranch in Rapid City. We're staying here for a week as a benefit of our Thousand Trails membership for $12.00 a night for full hook up. A great price for the area which is in full vacation mode. Along the way we stopped at the last rest area in Wyoming and found that we had a flat tire on the house. Can you say that...our house has a flat!!!
It must have happened as we came into the rest area because it wasn't fully flat when I saw it. But it quickly became that way. Boy...THANK YOU for that potty break. We called Good Sam's Road-Side Assistance and after a 3 hour wait the tire guy came from Spearfish South Dakota. He quickly changed out the tire for our spare.
And back on the road we went getting into the Hart Ranch about 5:30pm..a little later than planned but still not too bad. Gary has been on the phone with Carriage and the tire company and they are sending a new tire here. We hope it'll arrive on Friday so we can get it installed before we leave on Monday.

Bright and early on Tuesday morning we met up with Judy and Greg again. They are staying about 8 miles from us at Rushmore Shadows. We went to one of the newest national parks to see one of the Minuteman Missiles.
A retired Air Force "missilleer" who was stationed in a launch control center described what life was like and what his responsibilities had been. We then traveled about 6 miles to a Minuteman II missile silo. This site tour was conducted by.....Egor, a young Russian working there for the summer. An interesting twist considering the purpose of those missiles back in the 60s. Was this missile aimed at his house?? Probably not as we learned..the missiles were aimed at Russia's missiles not at a particular town. Still a bit disconcerting to see history that could have been very different. I'm sure glad folks kept cool heads about themselves back then.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Escapade in Gillette Wyoming

We made it to Gillette on Saturday about noon meeting our friends Greg and Judy Bahnmiller right outside of the CamPlex. We went into Escapade together and were parked back to back. Great location right near the road. We first met Greg and Judy the spring we started full-timing at the Life on Wheels Conference in Bowling Greene, KY. They also sold their stick and brix house in Michigan to take to the road in their Hitchhiker 5th wheel. We next saw them at the Escapade in Indiana last September. We've followed their adventures thru their blog.

On Saturday we registered for Escapade, picked up our goodie bag and checked out some of the vendors that were set up in the market area. Then out to dinner at the local Golden Coral. On Sunday the activities started. More visiting to the vendors, and going to some of the many classes being offered. Each evening there was entertainment. One night we listened to country music played by the Chugwater Band from Cheyenne Wyoming. They were OK but as most know, NOT MR. P's favorite kind of music. The best entertainment offered was performed by Jimmy Travis. He was a singer comedian and was great. Very funny and he sang well also.

The classes offered were very good. Everything from electricity and your RV to Cowgirl Nan and her stories about the old west. We enjoyed them but didn't go to as many as at the last Escapade. Having more experience in this lifestyle we just didn't feel the need to "learn it all" like we did last year.
One afternoon we skipped out and went to the RockPile Museum in Gillette. This free museum displays lots of information about Gillette and Campbell county from many years. Very interesting and definitely worth the time we spent there.

On Wednesday night we caught up with the Escapee Class of 2007 FullTimers and had a pot-luck supper. It was great to finally meet others we'd only met thru the internet on the Escapees Forum. Good food and fellowship. And plans to meet some again at the Gypsy Journal Rally in Ohio in September and at a Reunion Rally being held next year in Texas. The picture shows some of the guys putting the CARE patch on our banner. The group has raised and donated over $1000 to Escapees CARE. CARE is located at Rainbow's End in Livingston Texas at Escapees home and offers care to any member that has illness and needs assistance while they recover.

Every Escapees member is assigned a SKP number when they join the club. SKP stands for

S - Support
One important benefit of Escapees is the support members get from each other as they travel. Because some Escapees travel long distances from their home base and families, and because they may be on the road for many months at a time, it is important to be part of an extended family of travelers. Support also includes the many benefits and optional services that the Escapees Club provides.

K - Knowledge
Members often say that the money-saving tips they get from Escapees magazine alone more than pay their annual dues. Learning is also the keynote of the Escapades that take place each year. Going to an Escapade is like attending a concentrated five-day college course on RVing.

P - Parking
One thing that makes the Escapees RV Club different from other RV clubs is that it offers members places to park. In addition to home-base benefits for those who join an SKP Co-Op or Rainbow Park, all Escapees members may use short-term parking at Escapees parks. This includes Rainbow's End campground, located at the international headquarters in Livingston, Texas. Members also have overnight parking opportunities with other Escapees members across the country.

There is a lot of volunteerism practiced by the Escapees members. Everything from working at CARE at Rainbow's End in Livingston to building houses with Habitat for Humanity. While at Escapade we volunteered and helped out. I sold ice cream one day and maintained an information booth another time. Gary signed up to drive one of the shuttle vans but was released because they had more drivers than they needed. We're thinking about volunteering with the Habit for Humanity group later next year. I can swing a mean paint brush and you know Mr. P has many skills he could bring to the group. :) We'll see once we learn more about the work being done.

Friday was the Fourth of July. We started the day having breakfast at Greg and Judy's Rig. We brought the meat and they treated us to Muggles. Muggles are scrambled pancakes and very tasty. We'd never heard or tried these before but it won't be the last time we have them. I've already tried once cooking them with limited success but plan to try again after talking to Greg and Judy about my cooking method.
After breakfast we went into Gillette for the Fourth of July Parade. This is the first parade we'd been to in some time and we enjoyed it very much. Being an election year there were many floats (and I use that term very loosely) from the various folks seeking election. There were also many horses, cars and motorcycles. Very festive. The best part for us..being Escapees.. was our very own float. Built by members this week during Escapade. It came in 2nd overall in their judging but of course we thought it was best.

After the parade we went over to Bicentennial Park for a free HotDog lunch being provided by the City of Gillette. We like free. And it was good too. Afterward we went back to the rig to "rest" before the fireworks. These started in the neighborhood across the street from the CamPlex at about 4pm. They continued practically non-stop up until about midnight. That neighborhood must have spent several thousand dollars on fireworks. I've never seen so many outside of a fireworks display being provided by some organization before. These were everywhere for miles around. We decided we needed to be in the fireworks business. So we could them to this neighborhood for next year. At 10pm the CamPlex started with their display. We have great seats just outside our rig and enjoyed seeing it all with other Escapees. Overall a very fun day and night. We fell into bed after midnight still hearing fireworks going off in the distance.
Another successful Escapade with over 1000 rigs and over 2000 members and guest attending. Now..the question we plan to go to the next one..Missouri in May.. who knows.. time will tell. Love to you all. Deb